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Florida couple explains why they enrolled in clinical trial for Pfizer COVID vaccine booster

The family was previously enrolled in the third phase of the initial coronavirus vaccine trial last fall.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With an announcement expected soon that most vaccinated Americans will eventually need a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, clinical trials are underway here in Florida.

Julio and Vicky Hajdenberg say they enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine booster trial a few weeks ago. They, along with their children and Julio’s 80-year-old mother, were previously enrolled in the third phase of Pfizer’s initial vaccine trial last fall.

“It was very similar to the prior process,” said Vicky Hajdenberg, explaining she arrived at the site, listened to a doctor and nurse explain the objectives of the trial, signed a consent form, and received her injection.

“It was very straightforward,” she said.

Pfizer reached out to them about signing up given their previous participation.

Once a week, using an app on their phones, they each fill out a symptom checklist to submit to researchers, Julio said. Researchers call once a month to verbally check in with participants.

Just like last time, neither knows if the injection they received is the actual dose or just a placebo.

Following the initial trial, the central Florida family learned half of them had received the placebo while the other half got the vaccine. No one experienced any serious or significant side effects.

Julio is an oncologist, while Vicky has been doing clinical trials—administration and research—for years. Both said they trust the process.

“There are people who are highly dedicated who work in clinical research – from physicians to nurses to trial coordinators – many layers of monitor and oversight to make sure we are doing the right thing,” Vicky said.

“The risk to the individual versus the benefit to society has to always be considered.”

Taking part in the trial, they said, is just as much about contributing as it is clearing up misconceptions.

“You’re not only doing it for you, you’re doing it for you and your family and the rest of the world," Vicky said.

"It is up to us who are blessed with having the technology… to be part of the solution.”

Her husband shared a similar sentiment.

“You really have a chance to help five or six billion people by participating in a trial – I’ve never had that chance,” Julio said. “Can you help six billion people—you can do a small part.”

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